by Mark on January 2, 2021
Ask almost any college professor who has to use Blackboard what do think about it, I bet you won't get a positive response. Blackboard is a true Dinosaur in the Learning Management Software space. It's big, bulky, and old. Faculty and students have to deal with it and I'm tired of dealing with it myself. I do like the grading component of the system but managing course content from semester to semester takes up so much time between and during the semesters.
Blackboard does have a newer version called Blackboard One that looks interesting and maybe more user-friendly. However, there is also one truth to academia that distance learning or tech ed departments in colleges are slow to update the systems they use so I don't expect to see this upgrade in the near term.
I'm also interested in using my course content teach outside of the campus because that's the direction the world is moving towards. I still believe in the college system for collaborative learning, accreditation of students' skills and knowledge, but I also believe that the future of education is free and independent from academic institutions. Once learning systems evolve and instructors adapt, more and more instructors will take courses out of the institutions and more into their own domain. It's already happening on sites like Skillshare, Udemy, and Udacity.
During the winter break, I've been working on adding content structures for courses, lessons, and exercises to this website. Learning how to use the Netlify CMS collections has been pretty interesting. While adding the content is pretty straight forward, adding functionality assessments like uploading files, quizzes, discussion boards, and grading will take some more work. I could probably duct tape this together with Google Forms and Sites, but I would prefer to have this built using the Firebase, which this site is already hosted on.
With three weeks to go before the start of the semester, I'm not sure if I will be able to complete this and will probably have to continue to use Blackboard for the Spring 2021 semester but this is something that I definitely want to have online for Fall 2021.